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SPC Prof. Releases Book

By Brett Wilson | November 20, 2013

Dr. Mark Yarhouse.

For 15 years, Dr. Mark Yarhouse, Hughes Endowed Chair and professor at Regent University School of Psychology & Counseling (SPC), has been writing and speaking about a topic that, for some people in the United States and elsewhere, remains challenging: sexual identity.

In his latest book, Understanding Sexual Identity, Yarhouse tackles the subject once again, as his words become a resource for youth ministers who are seeking guidance for how to respond when a young person tells them they are gay.

"In the direct ministry place you have to acknowledge that it takes a lot of courage for a young person to share with a leader of the church that they are navigating through this part of their life," said Yarhouse. "So, I encourage youth pastors to hear that for what it is: looking for support."

It is with that same courage and heart that keeps Yarhouse delving into the topic. He began writing this book with the original intent to be an accessible resource for a youth ministry educator's conference he attended last spring.

As the founder of SPC's Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity (ISSI), which will mark its 10th anniversary in 2014, Yarhouse is a distinguished expert on the topic of sexual identity. It is a both a compilation of the research he and his students have completed, as well as translations of countless consultations with Christian colleges and universities around the country.

He explained that many of the questions he hears most frequently are regarding what "causes" homosexuality and how to "change it." This approach to ministry, according to Yarhouse, is a response to the "cultural wars" the church experiences regarding homosexuality. And while many would focus on "resolving" same-sex attraction, Yarhouse encourages youth ministers to simply help young students develop a relationship with Christ and foster spiritual maturity.

"These students look at the church they were raised in, and they don't hear the church talking about this issue; or if they do, it's in a very negative or derogatory way," said Yarhouse. "They need something real and substantive from someone who journeys with them, so get ready to take the long view and walk with them."

Yarhouse streamlines the image of navigating a journey through the book, helping youth ministers and pastors guide those in their youth groups with walking through their sexual orientation.

"Correct theology is a great starting point, but it's not the end of pastoral care," said Yarhouse. "Getting theology right doesn't discharge you of your responsibility to get on the trail and to walk with someone in ministry."

Learn more about the School of Psychology & Counseling and the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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